Life is not about waiting for the storms to pass- it is about learning to dance in the rain.

Saturday, August 19, 2006

This is the me with the registration lady from UIC when I checked in for the liver donation last December. (She was soooo helpful and stayed late in order to obtain a bed for me) I was excited; I was on a mission. But isn't all of life a mission? If I really believe God, each experience in my life is a mission from Him. So...maybe I'll take along my camera and record this one too!!

Back on August 5th I said I'd finish the article later. Now is later. I wrote about Elizabeth Kubler-Ross' stages of receiving catastrophic news that have been more recently called the stages of grief.

Denial and Isolation

(SIDEBAR: Of course, my readers didn't know it at the time, but I was dealing with receiving catastrophic news. I had a mammogram August 2nd and my doctor called me within 45 minutes of the procedure (Trust me, that's not good!) to tell me that the x-ray was "highly suspicious" of malignancy and the ultrasound was "highly suggestive" of malignancy. The mammogram was following a doctor's visit July 20th specifically to do some routine stuff before summer was over.)

(Back to the process of grief) However, the counselors at "Dealing with loss" give a different definition of the grief process, the acronym TEAR:

T = To accept the reality of the loss
E = Experience the pain of the loss
A = Adjust to the new environment without the lost object
R = Reinvest in the new reality

Note that "Grief Work" by this definition only begins where the 5 stages of "grief" leave off. At acceptance. This concept of "Grief Work" is often used by grief professionals to help the bereaved through grief resolution.

From where I sit now, this puts an entirely new slant on my situation and gives me a new appreciation for what I have. Meaning, I'm not losing anyone at this point, only a body part and facing an uncertain future. This whole idea of coming face to face with one's mortality is a shocker however. I mean, we all know we're going to die someday, but the idea that it could be in this way and maybe sooner than we thought is disconcerting.

I don't know if it shows in this writing, but I'm much more at peace with the upcoming events than I was on August 5th. I was still dealing with receiving
catastrophic news. Today I'm at least at acceptance of the situation. Probably later, I'll have the experiencing of pain and adjusting to the new situation to struggle through.

But for today, I'm at peace. God's hand will carry me through this difficult time. I have a malignant intraductal carcinoma. The growth is diffuse and spiculated. It is approximately 2.5 cm, flat rather than round. (I should say was, because the doctor did remove the lump during the surgical biopsy on the 15th of August). At the time he told me it was not healthy tissue that it was either necrotic or malignant. I went back the next day and received the news: the lab found the lump to be malignant.

The surgeon's strategy is to do a modified left mastectomy (taking the lymph nodes as well). He sent me to a second surgeon -- the plastic surgeon to see about the reconstruction process.

If a mammograph merits a comedy routine, so does a visit to a plastic surgeon for breast work. Just like on tv, he actually took a sharpie marker and drew on my breast. "We'll cut here and here," etc. The upshot is that if surgeon number one is able to leave enough of the skin (Intraductal carcinoma involves the ducts and the mammary gland, but should leave most of the skin unaffected) to use for reconstruction, he will place an inflatable plastic implant and sew the breast together (minus the nipple area). Then on a weekly basis (or as I heal), saline solution will be added to the implant so that the skin will stretch and match it's former size (and the other one). Well, actually it will be overinflated (Please God let it get cooler so I can wear jackets to cover the mammoth breast!!) and then the saline one will be replaced by a correct-sized silicone implant which will then allow the breast to hang (sic) normally. (You should see the picture of the overinflated one the surgeon uses to demonstrate!!! It really is hideously funny when I'm thinking that could be ME!) Later a nipple is made and grafted on and tatooing completes the areola so that the two sides match. Isn't that funny?? I told you this could be a comedy routine.

We do have our comedic moments. Waiting for the lab reports from the biopsy, the surgeon had said the lump could have been necrotic fatty tissue. (From an injury, the fat tissue could die) I like bacon, lettuce and tomato sandwiches with extra bacon. As I'm biting down on this delicious BLT, Bob quips, "maybe that's where the bacon has gone." (Nothing like gallow humor) It was funny at the time, but maybe you had to be there!

Surgery will be Wednesday at Sherman Hospital. Please remember to pray for my family. We're coping well, humor and all. But I do think family members have a harder time facing the mortality of a loved one than the individual facing illness. But God is able for them too. Just pray for them.

It's the aftermath that will be most traumatic. We'll have to see whether or not the lymph nodes are also cancerous. If so, chemotherapy will be required. If not, that would be good news. Since they're doing the mastectomy, radiation will probably not be recommended. However, I don't see the oncologist until after the surgery to determine follow-up treatment for the cancer. So far, I'm only concentrating on surgery and finishing that process... One step at a time!

It does seem ironic that after attempting to help Victor fight his cancer, I should now have to personally battle the beast. But God knows. His hand is upon me no matter what.
I know some of you have been fasting and praying.  I believe the peace that I
feel is due to your prayers. I know that God is able to deliver. He's healed
before--at the last minute. But whether I will be delivered FROM this or
delivered THROUGH it, I trust Him. Thank you for helping me to achieve that


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